United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
A. SARGUS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant Yahya Farooq
Mohammad's ("Defendant") Motion to Set Aside,
Vacate and Correct Defendant's Convictions and Sentences
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255 (See 3:15-cr-358
["Mohammad /'] ECF No. 389; 3:16-cr-222
["Mohammad IF] ECF No. 70). The United States
of America (the "Government") responded
(Mohammad I ECF No. 390; Mohammad II ECF
No. 71); Defendant filed a supplemental brief in support of
his motion (Mohammad I ECF No. 391; Mohammad
II ECF No. 72); and Defendant replied to the
Government's Response (Mohammad I ECV No. 392;
Mohammad II ECV No. 73). For the reasons stated
herein, Defendant's Motion (Mohammad I ECF No.
389; Mohammad II ECF No. 70) is
on or about January 1, 2005 and continuing until on or about
January 2012, Defendant conspired with others to provide
material support and resources, and to conceal and disguise
the nature, location, source, and ownership of material
support and resources, with the knowledge and intent that
such resources were to be used in preparation for an in
carrying out: (1) the killing of officers and employees of
the United States; (2) the killing of United States'
nationals; and (3) acts of terrorism transcending national
boundaries. (Plea Agreement ¶ 29 [Mohammad I
ECF No. 251; Mohammad HECF No. 58]). More
specifically, Defendant and his co-conspirators agreed to
provide resources to Anwar Al-Awlaki ("Awlaki") for
furtherance of "violent jihad" against the United
and States and the United States military. (Id.
¶ 30). Further, Defendant and his co-conspirators knew
that the material support they provided to Awlaki would be
used by Awlaki
September 30, 2015, a federal grand jury returned a
four-count Indictment charging Defendant and others with:
Conspiracy to Provide and Conceal Material Support to
Terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A (Count 1);
Providing Material Support to Terrorists, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2339A (Count 2); Conspiracy to Commit Bank
Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (Count 3); and
Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1512k (Count 4). (Mohammad I Indictment [ECF
No. 1]). The allegations in the Indictment primarily stemmed
from Defendant's efforts to provide money to the
terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki in 2009. (See generally
id.). Defendant was arrested in November 2015 and
ordered detained pending trial. (See Plea Agreement
¶ 36 [Mohammad I ECF No. 251; Mohammad
II ECF No. 58]; see also Mohammad I Ord. of
Detention [Mohammad I ECF No. 18]).
detained, Defendant solicited another to murder the judge
presiding over his case, Judge Jack Zouhary. (See
Plea Agreement ¶ 36). Defendant attempted to arrange
Judge Zouhary's murder by having a fellow detainee
contact a "hit man." (Id. ¶¶
36-37). The "hit man" was actually an FBI
undercover employee. (Id. ¶ 37). In furtherance
of his plot to murder Judge Zouhary, Defendant directed his
wife to make a $1, 000 down payment to the "hit
man." (See Id. ¶¶ 38-39).
Defendant's wife then provided an undercover agent posing
as the "hit man" $ 1, 000 on or about May 5, 2016.
(Id. ¶ 39). On or about May 16, 216,
Defendant's wife and the "hit man" met again,
and the "hit man" showed her a photograph that
purportedly showed the dead body of Judge Zouhary.
(Id. ¶ 40). After showing Defendant's wife
the photograph, the "hit man" demanded the rest of
the money from Defendant's wife, who said she had to
first get in contact with Defendant. (Id.).
on July 6, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a three-count
Indictment, charging Defendant with: Attempted First Degree
Murder of a Federal Officer or Employee, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1114(3) (Count 1); Solicitation to Commit a
Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 373(a)
(Count 2); and the Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in
the Commission of Murder-for-Hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1958(a) (Count 3). (Mohammad II Indictment
[ECF No. 1]).
10, 2017, Defendant and the Government entered into a binding
Plea Agreement pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure. (See Mohammad I ECF No,
251; Mohammad II ECF No. 58), Pursuant to the Plea
Agreement, Defendant agreed to plead guilty to: Count One in
case number. 3:15-cr-358, Conspiracy to Provide and Conceal
Material Support to Terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 233 9A; and Count Two in case number. 3:16-cr-222,
Solicitation to Commit a Crime of Violence, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 373(a). (See Plea Agreement
¶¶ 2, 18). Defendant agreed to waive certain
rights, including his right to appeal his convictions, his
right to appeal the sentence imposed, and his right to
collaterally attack his conviction, by way of motion brought
pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (See Id. ¶
A change of plea hearing took place before the undersigned on
July 10, 2017. (See Mohammad IECF No. 252;
Mohammad II ECF No. 59). During this hearing, the
undersigned questioned Defendant about the Plea Agreement
that he entered into with the Government. (See
generally Change of Plea Tr. [Mohammad I ECF
No. 257]). More specifically, the Court had the Government
outline the facts that supported Defendant's offenses of
Count One of case number 3:15-cr-358, the Government
presented that the following facts supported the finding that
Defendant conspired to provide and conceal material support
or resources to terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
[A]t least as early as on or about January 1, 2005, and
continuing until in or around January 2012, in the Northern
District of Ohio and elsewhere, the defendant, Yahya Farooq
Mohammad, admits that he did knowingly and intentionally
combine, conspire and agree with Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad,
Asif Ahmed Salim, Sultane Roome Salim, and with others known
and unknown, to provide material support and resources and to
conceal and disguise the nature, location, source and
ownership of material support and resources, to wit, property
and services, including currency and monetary instruments,
tangible property, services and expert advice and assistance,
knowing and intending that they were to be used in
preparation for and in carrying out violations of Title 18,
United States Code, Sections 1114, which is killing of
officers and employees of the United States; 2332, which is
killing of U.S. nationals; and 2332b, acts of terrorism
transcending national boundaries.
Specifically, as part of the conspiracy, Mohammad and his
coconspirators... agreed to provide funds, equipment and
expert advice and assistance to Anwar Al-Awlaki to be used in
furtherance of "violent jihad" against the United
States and the United States military in Iraq, Afghanistan
and throughout the world.
Mohammad and his coconspirators... knew and intended that the
funds, equipment and expert advice they conspired to provide
to Awlaki would be used by Awlaki in preparation for and in
carrying out acts of terrorism, including offenses which
would constitute violations of Title 18, United States Code,
Sections 1114, the killing of officers and employees of the
United States; 2332, the killing of U.S. nationals; and
2332b, acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
As part of the conspiracy, starting in approximately January
2009, Mohammad collected, solicited and raised funds both in
the United States and elsewhere to provide Awlaki and planned
to travel to Yemen in late January 2009 with coconspirators
to deliver funds to Awlaki.
In order to raise funds for Awlaki in his planned travel to
Yemen, Mohammad conspired with Ibrahim Mohammad to conduct
bank fraud using multiple credit cards issued by multiple
Because Mohammad was sick, he did not travel to Yemen in late
January 2009, but two coconspirators did and delivered the
funds raised by Mohammad to an associate of Awlaki's.
The amount of funds raised by Mohammad and his coconspirators
and delivered to Awlaki in late January 2009 was
In the spring of 2009, Mohmmad agreed, again with his
coconspirators ... to raise funds for Awlaki and to travel to
Yemen to deliver the funds to Awlaki.
In order to raise funds in the United States, Mohammad
collected approximately $17, 000 from Asif Salim and Sultane
Salim for delivery to Awlaki. These funds were provided in
the form of one check from Asif Salim in the amount of $2000
and three checks from Sultane Salim totaling $15, 000.
The checks were provided to Ibrahim Mohammad, who was then
living in the Northern District of Ohio, who them deposited
them into Mohammad's U.S. based bank account.
In order to transfer the money to Mohammad in the United Arab
Emirates, Mohammad and Ibrahim Mohammad made payments for
tuition and other expenses for a relative in the Northern
District of Ohio. The relative's father then repaid the
value of the expenses directly to Mohammad in the United Arab
On or about July 23, 2009, Mohammad traveled to Yemen with
two coconspirators to deliver funds to Awlaki. In Yemen[, ]
Mohammad and his coconspirators provided the funds to an
associate of the [sic] Awlaki's after they were unable to
meet Awlaki. The amount of fund provided to Awlaki through
his associate was approximately $22, 000.
On or about October 5, 2009, Mohammad received an e-mail from
Awlaki acknowledging the receipt of the funds which Mohammad
shared with other coconspirators.
In addition to providing material support to Awlaki, Mohammad
and his coconspirators also conspired to conceal the
provision of material support and obstruct the investigation
into their activities. To further these goals, Mohammad
instructed Ibrahim Mohammad to lie to law enforcement about
the funds provided to Awlaki, lied himself to investigators,
and deleted relevant e-mails.
of Plea Tr. at 25:21-29:2). The Court then asked Defendant
whether the Government's rendition of the facts was
correct, to which Defendant answered: "Yes,
Judge[;]" and Defendant submitted that no part of the
Government's statement was incorrect. (Id. at
Government then outlined the facts that gave rise to Count
Two in case number 3:16- cr-222, Solicitation to Commit a
Crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 373:
Beginning in or around March of 2016 and continuing until on
or about May 16, 2016, in the Northern District of Ohio,
Western Division and elsewhere, the defendant, Yahya Farooq
Mohammad, admits he solicited, commanded induced and
otherwise endeavored to persuade another person to kill
United States District Court Judge Jack Zouhary, a federal
felony that has an element the use, attempted use or
threatened use of physical force against a person on account
of the judge's performance of his official duties under
circumstances that strongly corroborate his intent.
While pending trial in Case Number 3:15-CR-358, Mohammad was
detained in the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo,
Ohio, in the Northern District of Ohio. United States
District Court Judge Jack Zouhary was the presiding judge
assigned to the case.
While detained, Mohammad met another inmate, Individual A, in
the Lucas County Corrections Center and acknowledged to
Individual A that he wanted to hire someone to kill Judge
Zouhary. Mohammad agreed to pay $ 15, 000 for the murder of
Individual A provided Mohammad with the name and telephone
number of an FBI undercover employee, hereinafter referred to
as UCE, who was posing as an associate of Individual A who
was capable of implementing the plan to kill Judge Zouhary.
In order to disguise their conversations, Mohammad and
Individual A worked out a code to be used when Mohammad
communicated with the UCE ...